Barbecues Galore unveils mega store redesign

Barbeques Galore is experimenting with a new physical store format in the midst of rightsizing the store network and considering the future and evolution of the brand’s retail experience.

The redesign has been described as a “fundamental rethink” by CEO Angus McDonald, with an emphasis on bringing the brand’s personality to life.

“We’re in a category which is unique in many ways and the product we sell is in many homes around Australia. It is the centre of social connection, with people gathering around a barbeque or fireplace as an important way of bringing people together,” McDonald said.

“In many ways, that creates the ultimate high-involvement category for a retailer. We’re not just dealing with some of the senses, but all of them.”

According to retail design expert Gary McCartney, who worked with the Barbeques Galore team, the store format puts the focus back on the merchandise.

A defined pathway helps customers clearly navigate their way through the store, while wall merchandising has been replaced with graphics and signage, sharing the stories behind the brands and products.

In the centre is a large demonstration area known as “The Steakhouse”, set up like an outdoor kitchen, where employees can fire up any barbeque and cook a meal for customers.

Another major change to the store format is the switch from blanket fluoro lighting to dramatic track lighting, focusing only on the merchandise and creating atmosphere and ambience.

The new store footprint is also smaller than the previous format, so the store transformation is focused on a more efficient use of space and fit-out costs have been reduced.

The first of four trial stores will roll out from July onwards, including Warringah Mall, Hornsby and Artarmon in New South Wales and Everton Park in Queensland.

Barbeques Galore is experimenting with two different kinds of formats – the Explorer stores will be 1000sqm with a sizable demonstration area, whereas the Express stores will be half the size.

According to McDonald, the store transformation is part of a broader review of the brand’s network and in February this year, the business had already begun relocating and closing some stores.

“It’s been an important process of optimising our network and ensuring we’re addressing any unproductive space, but it also allows us to look at new locations, so we’re connecting with customers in the right way,” McDonald explained.

“Our brand has been around since 1977. It has a great heritage in Australia but at the same time, we have to think about the future of what our retail experience looks and feels like and we need to make big changes to evolve our retail experience.”

Even before the pandemic, some have questioned the relevance and role of bricks-and-mortar stores, but like many retailers right now, McDonald believes the way of the future for Barbecues Galore is in creating an exceptional omnichannel experience.  

“Particularly in a high-involvement category like ours, the store still plays an important role, but increasingly, it’s part of a broader process integrated from the early stages of online research and the things that happen post-purchase, like delivery and home installation,” said McDonald.

“It’s really about fusing the two areas together and recognising it’s not about competing forces. It’s a mistake people make. They think it’s bricks-and mortar versus online, but I strongly believe it’s the fusion of both that delivers the greatest experience.”

McDonald added that at Barbeques Galore, click-and-collect orders make up a large share of online transactions, indicating the importance of the bricks-and-mortar stores for the brand.

“We want to think about how [on- and offline] fit together and embrace things like endless aisle and click-and-collect. It’s that fusion of both that delivers the best outcome and we think that’s important for our plan in the next few years.”

This article was first published in Inside Retail, a sibling publication to Inside Franchise Business.